Destination: France: Paris
Canal St.-Martin, 10th arrondissement
Discover this trendy neighborhood in Paris by following the banks of the Canal St.-Martin, a picturesque old industrial canal that begins just behind the Place de la République and runs north to La Villette, the onetime location of the Paris abattoirs. There are no sights in particular to see aside from the Hôtel du Nord, immortalized in the film of the same name by Marcel Carné; instead, this walk is about taking in old-time Paris, in a part of the city that’s just waking up after a long slumber—the former working-class neighborhood is increasingly gentrifying with the arrival of a new crowd of bobos (bourgeois bohemians).
Montmartre, 18th arrondissement
This bohemian neighborhood is one of my favorites in Paris—it’s perfect miniature version of the city. Parts of the area are well-heeled—the Avenue Junot, for example—but much of it remains bustling and profoundly heterogeneous. For this walk, start by going north on the Rue Dancourt to the Place de Dublin, then turn left into Rue d’Orsel, which turns into the Rue des Abbesses. Turn left into the Rue des Abbesses and walk west until it becomes the Rue Lepic (the street climbs gently to the Moulin de la Galette, the dance hall depicted in paintings by Renoir, van Gogh and Toulouse-Lautrec. Continue up the Rue Lepic until it becomes the Rue des Saules. At the corner of the Rues des Saules and St.-Vincent are the only vineyards left within the city limits. Follow the Rue des Saules to the corner of the Rue Lamarck, turn right, then follow it to the Rue de la Bonne, which leads up to the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur.
Read about recommended walks for shoppers who want to browse the best boutiques in St. Germain and the Marais on their strolls.
The Real Left Bank
Window-shopping and people watching are the draws here, as this walk encompasses much of the real, as opposed to touristy, Left Bank. Start at the corner of the Rue du Bac, one of Paris’s fashionable streets, and the Quai Voltaire, and head south on the Rue du Bac. Continue until you reach Le Bon Marché department store, and then cross the Rue de Sèvres and go up the Rue Saint-Placide, known for its discount clothing stores, notably Le Mouton à Cinq Pattes, until you get to the Rue du Cherche-Midi. If you want a timeout, stop at Le Nemrod (51 Rue du Cherche-Midi, 6th; 33-1-45-48-17-05)—a popular café that serves salads, a good steak tartare, and wines by the glass—then turn left on the Rue du Cherche-Midi. Continue across the Boulevard Raspail and follow the street until it becomes the old Rue du Dragon, which ends at the Boulevard St.-Germain. Turn right, and perhaps enjoy a coffee at the Café de Flore (172 Boulevard St.-Germain, 6th; 33-1-45-48-55-26), the best café in Paris. Afterward, turn left leaving the café and head down the Boulevard St.-Germain until you reach the heart of St.-Germain-des-Prés and the Rue Bonaparte. Turn left on the Rue Bonaparte, stopping at the jewel-like shop of Pierre Hermé (72 Rue Bonaparte, 6th; 33-1-43-54-47-77), the acclaimed pastry maker, then follow the Rue Bonaparte to the Seine, where this walk ends.
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